July 27, 2014 – The Health Department today warned New Yorkers not to use synthetic cannabinoids after becoming aware since Thursday night of 15 people experiencing severe adverse reactions to suspected ingestion of the products. Synthetic cannabinoids, marijuana-like substances which were made illegal in 2012 and are meant to imitate the effects of marijuana, are known by several street names, including K2, Spice, Green Giant, Geeked Up, Caution, Smacked, Wicked X, AK-47 and “legal marijuana.” The Department has seen a 220% increase in emergency department visits related to synthetic cannabinoids in 2014. In the last two days, 15 emergency department visits related to possible ingestion of synthetic cannabinoids have occurred among residents of East Harlem, Central Harlem and Chelsea.
“K2, Spice, Green Giant – no matter what you call it, synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous and illegal,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “I urge people not to use these products, which have caused a huge spike in emergency room visits this year.”
Because the ingredients change frequently in synthetic cannabinoids, the risks and consequences of using them are unpredictable and there is no antidote. Reactions include seizures and hallucinations, though symptoms usually do not last longer than 1-2 hours.
The Health Department urges New Yorkers who see synthetic cannabinoids for sale to report this to 311, which will send the information to NYPD.